Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March 9, 1974-Final Saturday Night at the Ryman Auditorium

I hope that many of you do not mind when I look back and post some historical Grand Ole Opry line ups from the past. Sometimes I think it is neat to look back and see what happened on various Friday and Saturday nights in the history of the Opry.

This time, I want to look back on the final Saturday night Grand Ole Opry shows that took place at the Ryman Auditorium prior to the move to the new Grand Ole Opry House. That final Saturday night took place on March 9, 1974, 37 years ago Wednesday. Of course, the final show would be the Friday Night Opry on March 15, and then on Saturday March 16, the Opry took place for the 1st time at the new Opry House. (I will be posting those line ups in the coming days).

Much has been written about that final Saturday night, as the Saturday show was considered the true Opry show, with the Friday night show getting second billing. Also, much has been written about who was there and who wasn't there for that final show. Many claim to have been there that were not and many were backstage and did not actually perform that night.

While the performers were anxious to get to the new Opry House and to see what it was like, there was a note of real sadness in the air. Some of the quotes from the Opry stars were as follows:

Minnie Pearl said, "That night we left, the last night we played at the Ryman. I was crying. I was so sentimental about the old building. I never felt that way about the War Memorial and that's where I started on the Opry. But we had thirty years or more at the Ryman and it had so much ambiance. The church pews, the haze of hair spray in that ladies' room. Henry leaving me out of the car in the alley and me running up those cement steps to the stage door, the people out front--"

Jan Howard said, "That last night was a very sacred moment. But I'm kind of glad we left. Listen, when you see people pass out in front of you because of the heat, and you're performing on a stage that's a hundred ten degrees, and there's no air--yes, I'm glad we moved. But it still was a reverent moment that night, almost like being in church. You knew it was history and you were a part of it."

Jeanne Pruett said, "Marty Robbins and I did the last show (the 11:30 segment). I can remember when the curtain came down--well, we were going from what we knew and loved and held dear, to the unknown. And I just wondered to myself if it was the end of the Opry, or was it the beginning?"

And, finally, Roy Acuff said, "Certainly there are memories of this old house that will go with us forever. Not all of them good. Many of them are, but some of them are punishment. You just don't know how much we do appreciate you people. It's you who have made the Grand Ole Opry so successful. Will you not forget us when we move into our new building? You'll love us for being out there, and we'll love you for coming to see us. Thank you. God bless you all--good night."

And, you had Tom T. Hall, who elected not to continue on the Opry when it moved. Tom T. was quoted, "It's true that when the Opry left the Ryman I didn't go with it. But I'm a romantic, you know. I didn't care about the new Opry House at first--it just didn't seem right with me. Just out of a romantic notion." Of course, in 1980, Tom would rejoin the Opry.

So, here you go. Here is the actual line up from that final Saturday night, March 9, 1974

6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Willis Brothers(host): Give Me 40 Acres
Stu Phillips: There Must Be Another Way To Say Goodbye
Willis Brothers: Cool Water

6:45: Rudy's
Bobby Bare(host): Detroit City
Connie Smith: How Great Thou Art
Ernie Ashworth: Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor
Bobby Bare: The Mermaids

7:00: Shoney's
Billy Grammer(host): Under The Double Eagle, Black Mountain Rag, Wildwood Flower
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Nine Pound Hammer
Bill Carlisle: Too Old To Cut The Mustard
Billy Grammer: Orange Blossom Special
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: To My Mansion In The Sky
Bill Carlisle: I'm Moving

7:30: Goo Goo
Roy Acuff(host); Wabash Cannonball
Jeanne Pruett: You Don't Need To Move A Mountain
Lonzo & Oscar: Charming Betsy
Crook Brothers: Ira Red
Roy Acuff: Back In The Country
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets

8:00: Martha White
Wilburn Brothers(host): Roll, Muddy River
Justin Tubb: Rambling Man
Jodi Miller: Good News
Wilburn Brothers: Knoxville Girl
Justin Tubb: Texas Dance Hall Girl
Jodi Miller: Let's All Go Down To The River

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow(host): I'm Moving On
Jan Howard: My Kind Of People
4 Guys: Let Me Be There
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Hank Snow: Brand On My Heart
Jan Howard: Sunshine On My Shoulder
4 Guys: Top Of The World
Hank Snow: Hello Love

9:30: Kelloggs
Bobby Bare(host): Come Sundown
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Philadelphia Lawyer
Bobby Bare: Blowing In The Wind; Worried Man Blues; Gotta Travel On
Willis Brothers: Maiden's Prayer
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: I Shall Not Be Moved
Bobby Bare: Daddy, What If?

10:00: Fender
Stu Phillips(host): Pride
Jodi Miller: Darling, You Can Always Come Back Home
Bill Carlisle: Little Liza Jane
Stu Phillips: There Must Be Another Way To Say Goodbye

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff(host): When I Lay My Burdens Down
Minnie Pearl: Jealous Hearted Me

10:30: Trailblazer
Wilburn Brothers(host): It Looks Like The Suns Gonna Shine
Lonzo & Oscar: Traces Of Life
Wilburn Brothers: God Bless America Again

10:45: Beechnut
Billy Grammer(host): Gotta Travel On
Jerry Clower: The Coon Hunt
Crook Brothers: Liberty
Billy Grammer: How Great Thou Art

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow(host): In The Misty Moonlight
Jan Howard: Where No One Stands Alone
4 Guys: With My Baby On a Bright And Sunny Sunday Afternoon
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbin Ridge
Tanya Tucker: Delta Dawn
Sam McGree: Freight Train, Victor Rag, I Don't Love Nobody
Hank Snow: I Don't Hurt Anymore

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins(host): I Walk Alone
Jeanne Pruett: You Don't Need To Move A Mountain, Satin Sheets
Justin Tubb: Bad, Bad Leroy Brown
Marty Robbins: Don't Worry, Big Boss Man, I'm Wanting To, Rollin In My Sweet Baby's Arms, Love Me, Now Is The Hour

The 2nd show ended at 12:20am. Also, Jean Shepard was scheduled and canceled for both shows, and Connie Smith and Ernie Ashworth were only on the first show. There you have it.


  1. I always appreciate the lineups you post and love looking at them--indeed, savoring them.

    I'll tell you what I found interesting. You listed Bobby Bare doing "Gotta Travel On" an hour before Billy Grammer also did it. Grammer had the original recording of "Detroit City," and Bare had the big hit. I wonder about those two!

  2. I attended this show. I will never forget Minnie Pearl crying on stage for everybody to see and hear as she contemplated leaving the Ryman. Powerful stuff.
    Thanks so much for the effort that goes into this blog. It is tremendous!